The National came back to NYC with a bang at Forest Hills Stadium with a two day mini festival. With a stellar lineup on both days fans were treated to Adia Victoria, Phoebe Bridgers, Cigarettes after Sex, Jason Isbell, and of course The National on Saturday night. Sunday came the turn of Bully, US Girls, Cat Power, Future Islands and once again The National bringing it home.
Saturday afternoon kicked off with the inimitable Adia Victoria. Best described as gothic blues Adia seems to gently coax us in to her sound and once we are in place its hard not to love these slow sinking songs. As she flailed too and fro in front of her band we were treated to songs from her 2016 album Beyond the Bloodhounds, as well as some new unreleased sounds.
Phoebe Bridgers and her band were up next and opened with the wonderful “Smoke Signals” which comes from her critically acclaimed 2017 album Stranger in the Alps. We were then treated to the song “Me and my dog” from her new supergroup “boygenius” EP, Phoebe together with Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker formed the group earlier this year. The short set by Bridgers ended with the beautiful “Motion Sickness.”
Cigarettes after Sex brought their dreamy shoegaze to Queens. A mellow set from the Brooklyn based 4 piece fronted by Greg Gonzalez, who has a beautiful sentimental voice shining through their slow pop sound. A cover of REO Speedwagon (“Keep on loving you”) thrown in for good measure this set was a highlight of the afternoon.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit took the stage as the lights in the stadium were coming on. Jason and Co came out swinging with that full on Nashville sound on display. “Hope the high road,” “Cumberland Gap” and “White Man’s World” blazed by before Isbell took it down a notch for a beautiful solo version of “Cover me up” which the crowd loved. His set closed out with “If we were vampires” which again came soft and low. A beautiful set.
Just after 8pm The National took to the stage and were met with ferocious roars from the crowd. Folks had staked their claim at the railing early in the day to be up close and personal with Matt Berninger and Co. Anyone who has ever seen these guys live will know that Matt really like to get up close and personal with his audience. Opening with “Nobody else will be there” from their 2017 record Sleep Well Beast, The National have perfected all aspects of their sound and performance and it simply feels effortless. Berninger spends much of the performance on the stacks in the front of the crowd before eventually taking off into the night and doing a lap of the arena with mic in hand. Its circus like to a degree but its all so perfectly orchestrated that the nonsense makes sense.
Later in the set Phoebe Bridgers joined for two songs, “I need my girl” and “sorrow,” their voices are a perfect match and this went down as the pinnacle of the night for many folks, including myself. Down further into the set we got “Apartment Story,” “England”, and the set closed out with “About Today.”
The National returned to the stage for a four song encore. “Rylan,” “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” “Mr November,” and closed the night out with “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks.” A sensational end to a sensational day.
Article: Anthony Mulcahy